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Genus of the Week

Week of January 11-17

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This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes , a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.

This week's genus:


Plantago


Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Asteridae
Order: Plantaginales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Number of Species: around 250
Root: From the Latin "planta", meaning "sole of the foot", a reference to the broad leaves laying against the ground that are found in basal rosettes in some species.

Plants in the genus Plantago, more commonly known as plantains, have been valued for their herbal properties for centuries. For example, most species have seeds which produce a mucilage when wet, and the seeds of one species, P. psyllium, bear mucilage which is consumed for its laxative properties. Some species of Plantains are also known as pesky lawn weeds, invading yards with numerous basal rosettes of leaves. Many species of Plantago, especially those found in the Northeastern United States, can be recognized by their distinctively shaped seeds, which resemble a rowboat with a tiny dot of a person inside.

Here are some links to information concerning the genus Plantago:


References:

  1. Grieve, M. (C. F. Leyel, ed.). A Modern Herbal. London, Tiger Books International: 1973.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
  3. Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.

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